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Soaring Down South had the opportunity to exchange 5 questions and answers with Fansided’s Chicago Bulls Blogger, Josh Hill of Pippen Ain’t Easy, to preview tonight’s Atlanta Hawks vs. Chicago Bulls game.
I asked Josh 5 questions so we can know more about the Bulls from someone who has watched them closely and to find out how an opposing blogger views this Atlanta Hawks team. here’s how he answered them…
1. The biggest acquisition for the Bulls in the off-season was Richard (Rip) Hamilton. Almost everyone said he will be a good fit because he can defend and score the ball. Has he been able to do both? Is he any different than Ronnie Brewer?
Josh Hill/PAE: Once Rip was signed, the question in some circles was “should he start over Ronnie?”. The obvious answer is yes simply because of his seniority and his proven experience, but there is the belief that they will largely split reps at the position. Brewer said in the offseason that he isn’t going to just lay down and accept Rip as his superior. Not out of disrespect, but because he wants whoever starts in that spot for the majority of the season to be able to help the greater good. We saw Ronnie improve his game in camp and saw the results the Bulls wanted when he started against Memphis. Rip is the veteran and that’s why he was signed I believe. He and Ronnie are not at all different in style of play, it’s just Rip knows how to use that style of play to win like he proved in 2004. My belief is he will teach those fundamentals to not only the whole team but to Ronnie and we will see a sort of mentoring process for succession that you see regularly in the NFL with quarterbacks.
2. If CJ Watson is a no-go tonight, how many minutes should Derrick Rose expect to play tonight? I can’t imagine the Bulls playing John Lucas III too many minutes.
Josh Hill/PAE: C.J is going to be out for the next week with that elbow and Rose can expect to carry the load. Don’t think for a minute though that the Bulls are going to skim over Lucas. He played a solid ten minutes against the Grizzlies and is taking a lot of reps in practice. He had 8 points in his ten minutes on the court Sunday and he knows he has a lot to prove. Part of working under Tom Thibodeau and playing with the MVP is you want to avoid disappointing them. It’s like disappointing someone you have a lot of respect for, you just try your hardest to make them happy. Lucas will look to do that, he just won’t get all of Watson’s minutes to do so. Lucas can be a nice filler. We saw the Bulls have a great success with the next man up theory when Joakim Noah went down for ten weeks last year. Guys like Taj Gibson and Omer Asik really proved their worth in that span and Kurt Thomas got himself a contract elsewhere because of his performance. Lucas knows what can happen when guys on this team step and and fill in nicely, they get rewarded.
3. One of the Bulls’ strengths last season was their bench. How are they doing so far this season?
Josh Hill/PAE: It took until really the Memphis game to get an all around performance from them. They will be slow to the get go but as soon as they are called upon they will step up. C.J. Watson was already showing flashes of leadership in ways he didn’t last year and guys like Gibson, Asik and Brewer are all huge in terms of the rotations. That’s what will win championships this year, rotations because the season is condensed. Teams like Miami may be able to use their power at first to get ahead, but they will run put of bass with the closely scheduled games. The Bench Mob is the best bench in basketball and they haven’t been as effective as they need to be yet, but that’s because the Bulls haven’t needed them yet. The offense put up 104 points in two straight games and it won’t be until mid to late January that the Bench Mob is called upon. When they need to step up they will and hopefully they’ll have Watson back to be the general for the Mob. But as of now I’m not too concerned with their lack of productivity because the opportunity simply hasn’t been there the way it was last year.
4. You saw the Hawks closely last season in the playoffs, and they actually surprisingly challenged the Chicago Bulls and pushed them to six games. Did your perception of the Hawks change at all after that series?
Josh Hill/PAE: It did. Coming in I was, like many in Chicago, drunk on the season’s success. I firmly believed the Bulls could sweep their way to the Finals. It wasn’t until the Hawks series that I had that mindset obliterated. Atlanta is a really talented team and they have a lot of weapons that if they work properly, they can be deadly. We saw a good example of that last night against the Heat. With the additions of Tracy McGrady and to an extent Jannero Pargo the Hawks have a bit more depth then they did last year. They lost Jamal Crawford but to be honest he was sort of dead weight. He had a great year but that was to get a new contract. The Hawks are still a great team, if not a better team without him and that all came to me last year in the playoffs. Atlanta caused me to really take an objective look at the Bulls and realize they aren’t complete yet. The Bulls even cite the Hawks series as well as the Heat series as wake up calls that they aren’t quite there yet. So I guess if the Bulls win the Finals, they can thank Atlanta to an extent.
5. The Bulls are 1-0 at home so far this season. What are the chances they’ll be 1-1 after tonight?
Josh Hill/PAE: I believe they’ll win. They’re just too hot right now to be stopped. The best challenge right now could arguably be the Hawks though who are equally as hot and fired up after they’re win last night. Chicago has something special going on at the United Center though, it’s just a really electric place to take in a basketball game. The fans never get out of it and they feed the player’s swagger and their energy. It’s really a hand in hand experience in terms of the fans and the players. The players make huge plays on the court, it fires up the fans which in turn fires up the players even more so. It’s a true example of home court advantage and the Bulls didn’t just happen to win 36 games there last season, they’re was a reason for it and they have re-caprtured that momentum at home this year. That being said, the Hawks are the team right now to beat the Bulls at home and if Chicago can keep Atlanta in check, then there is no way given the energy of that building that they let a lead slip away.
You can see the questions he asked me and how I answered them here
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